API Undocumented Immigrants Respond to Obama’s Speech on Immigration Reform:
You can stop deportations now
San Francisco – Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education (ASPIRE), the nation’s first undocumented Asian immigrant organization, asked President Obama today at his speech on immigration reform in San Francisco’s Chinatown to stop deportations.
Ju Hong, an ASPIRE member, spoke out during the President’s speech. He asked, “Mr. President, please use your executive authority to halt [deportations]. We agree that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but at the same time, you have the power to stop deportations.” Members in the crowd joined ASPIRE and SF Dream Team members, who were next to Hong, in chanting, “Yes, you can. Stop the deportations!” Mr. Obama replied, “Actually, I don’t, and that’s why we’re here.”
As the Obama administration approaches almost 2 million deportations, ASPIRE requests the following from President Obama:
Explain your legal analysis for why you, as the chief executive, do not have the authority to stop deportations today. An average of 1,100 immigrants are deported every day under your administration. How can you support immigration reform while at the same time brutally enforcing our broken immigration system at the rate and speed that you do? You referred to the holidays in your speech. Isn’t this the perfect time to finally exercise your executive powers to halt deportations and keep our families together? And won’t that put much needed pressure on the House to pass real immigration reform? We respectfully await your prompt response.
The President has broad discretion in law enforcement in general and in immigration law enforcement in particular. This discretion includes: the power to choose whether to bring enforcement actions against specific individuals or categories of people, and the power to interpret existing laws and regulations. The President also has the authority to end or modify existing enforcement programs, including Operation Streamline and Secure Communities. Both are merely programs created by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that are not required by law. Executive power made possible Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which can be expanded more broadly to protect families.
“As an undocumented immigrant, my power comes through my voice. President Obama, you have the executive power to stop the pain in our communities. You said you are just following the law. But as you have acknowledged, our immigration laws are broken. The law also does not require you to deport 400,000 a year. You cannot support us while deporting thousands of our community members every day. We don’t need any more speeches. We need you to take real action,” says Ju Hong, ASPIRE member.
“An executive order from President Obama is the catalyst for immigration reform. As ASPIRE, we have organized countless lobby visits in Washington D.C. and throughout California to try and fix our broken immigration system. We also have hosted townhalls supporting just and humane reform, and put ourselves at risk engaging in civil disobedience. But the suffering of our communities who are facing deportation and languishing in detention centers continues unabated. So we are using our voices to tell you directly what our community needs and what you can do today,” May Liang, campaign organizer and member of ASPIRE.
ASPIRE is the first pan-Asian undocumented youth organization in the nation. We started with a few young people looking for help with their undocumented status at Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco. ASPIRE has grown to an organization of 50+ members in the last 5 years. We educate people about immigration reform, advocate for more just policies on immigration, and mobilize undocumented youth and allies for actions to push for fair and inclusive immigration.